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Social Media Tips for Restaurateurs

What kind of presence does your restaurant have in cyberspace? Do you have an employee designated to maintaining a Facebook page or Twitter account?

Online social media offers an interactive and ever-evolving channel for directly reaching customers. Which sites are the most popular? How much effort should you put into social media marketing, compared to traditional methods? How can you make sure your efforts will pay off?

A recent survey of 500 consumers provides some valuable answers:

Top Social Media Web Sites Consumers Visited in the Past 30 Days

  • YouTube.com: 56%
  • Facebook.com: 54%
  • MySpace.com: 33%
  • Classmates.com: 18%
  • Twitter.com: 17%

Top Reasons Customers Connect to Restaurants via Social Media

  • Access to coupons: 78%
  • Awareness of region-specific promotions: 76%
  • Awareness of general promotions: 73%
  • Access to special “members-only” deals: 61%
  • To be first to know about new menu items: 55%
  • Restaurant news: 53%
  • Showing others they are a fan of the brand: 46%

These answers have some important business-building implications. When starting an online campaign, consider the following tips:

1. Strategize before you begin. Make sure you know what message you want to convey in simple terms. What is the essence of your brand in a few words? You will have precious few moments to grab customers’ attention.

2. Stay consistent. Make sure you convey a unified message across different platforms. Use consistent imagery, wording, and style. Remember, the Internet is a very public arena, so messages should be carefully monitored.

3. Designate Manpower. Internet users tend to look for the newest, most exciting content. Before you begin a campaign, make sure someone from your company will be updating content on a regular basis. For example, BBQ restaurant Smokey Bones designates an employee to update information on its Facebook and MySpace pages. Don’t plan more than your staffer can realistically juggle with regular restaurant duties.

4. Be Adaptable. Web site use waxes and wanes. Once the social networking king, MySpace has been surpassed in popularity by Facebook. Twitter becomes more viable as a marketing resource every day. Be prepared to keep up with trends and evolve accordingly.

Source: 2009 American Express MarketBrief

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